The US Justice Department announced on Monday, June 17, it had settled antitrust charges with CBS, Cox Enterprises, E.W. Scripps, Fox, and Tegna, which were accused of sharing competitively sensitive information, reported The Wall Street Journal.
“All five companies are alleged to have engaged in unlawful information sharing among their owned broadcast television stations,” the Department said in a statement.
Court papers didn’t indicate any financial penalties as part of the settlement.
The Justice Department alleged the TV station owners shared advertising information among themselves regarding spot advertising revenues in local markets.
Pricing for spot advertising is negotiated by advertisers and the companies, and often, the advertisers “play off” the stations against each other to receive competitive revenues. Cox’s sales rep firm, Cox Reps, is among the top two sales reps firms that represents hundreds of stations throughout the US. The Justice Department alleges Cox Reps, another sales rep firm, and the stations shared station-specific revenue pacing data.
The government stated such pacing data, which compares sales bookings against prior-year results, gave station owners insights into each station’s remaining spot ad inventory.